Right now, for the first time in a decade, five planets are simultaneously visible to the naked eye from Earth. This rare celestial event can be seen every morning until late February at around 45 minutes before sunrise, with the view peaking in late January/early February.
Each morning, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, and finally Mercury will rise, in that order. These planets (and Earth) all orbit the sun in a similar plane called the ecliptic. Each planet, however, orbits the Sun at different speeds, meaning that they rarely line up in a way that can be seen from Earth. But for the next few weeks, things will line up just right.
To catch the view for yourself, head out before dawn and look south if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, north if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere. Venus is the brightest planet, followed by Jupiter. Saturn will shine in a yellow color, while Mars appears to be a rusty red. Mercury will be the hardest to spot, as it’s nearest to the horizon. Look for Mercury to the lower left of Venus.
If the blustery winter air proves too much, there will be another opportunity to see the planetary alignment from August 13 to 19.